California GOP leaders call for accountability after state can’t account for $24B spent on homeless crisis

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California GOP leaders are calling for more accountability after an audit released earlier this week indicated that the state spent around $24 billion to tackle the homeless crisis over the past five years but did not consistently track whether the huge outlay of public money did anything to actually improve the problem. 

The state auditor’s report found that despite roughly $24 billion spent on homeless and housing programs during the 2018-2023 fiscal years, the problem didn’t improve in many cities, according to the state auditor’s report.

Among other things, the report found that the California Interagency Council on Homelessness (Cal ICH), which is responsible for coordinating agencies and allocating resources for the homelessness programs, stopped tracking whether the programs were working in 2021. 

It also failed to collect and evaluate outcome data for these programs due to the lack of a consistent method, the audit found. 


FILE: Homeless tents are seen near the City Hall of San Francisco in California, United States on August 29, 2022.  (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

California Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher laid the blame squarely on the Newsom administration. 

“This is standard Gavin Newsom – make a splashy announcement, waste a bunch of taxpayer money, and completely fail to deliver,” Gallagher said in a statement to Fox News Digital. 

“Californians are tired of the homeless crisis, and they’re even more tired of Gavin’s excuses. We need results – period, full stop.” 

Republican state Sen. Roger Niello has called the audit “troubling” but told Fox News Digital he “wasn’t terribly surprised. 

“The one issue I had with the audit was that the focus was mostly on housing and shelter issues, which is certainly important, but really very little about actual results, getting people out of homelessness, not just into shelter,” he said. “That’s sort of half the job, maybe not even quite half the job. And, so that was a little bit of a disappointment.” 

Democratic state Sen. Dave Cortese, who requested the audit last year after touring a large homeless encampment in San Jose, said the audit “highlights the need for improved data and greater transparency at both the state and local levels.” 

SF Homelessness

Early in the morning at the intersection of Jones and Turk Streets Urban Alchemys Danielle LeBlue calls the police when a homeless person still remains asleep as the sidewalks are cleaned in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco, California, Wednesday January 26, 2022. (Getty Images)

“Unfortunately, there is a balkanized approach to data collection and outcomes, with no centralized system for tracking our investments,” he said. “This audit underscores the urgent need to establish best practices and create a blueprint for how the State of California and our cities can address our most visible challenge.” 


Former MLB All-Star Steve Garvey, who is running against Rep. Adam Schiff in California’s U.S. Senate race as a Republican, said it would take “real political courage to make necessary changes.” 

“Since day one, I’ve advocated for a federal audit of California’s homelessness crisis,” he said. “I’m glad that the state has done this, but now we need real political courage to make necessary changes. Our unhoused people and our taxpayers deserve real results, not more failed policies.” 

Despite the audit’s findings, Cal ICH said it has made improvements in data collection after AB 977 took effect on January 1, 2023. The law requires that grantees of state-funded homelessness programs to enter specific data elements related to individuals and families into their local Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). 

Still, Cal ICH is shifting blame to local governments, saying these municipalities must be held more accountable as they are the ones “primarily responsible for implementing these programs and collecting data on outcomes that the state can use to evaluate program effectiveness.” 


“The Council continues to improve its ability to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent judiciously and effectively, including by providing technical support to local jurisdictions to help align data standards and reporting,” Cal ICH said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.